Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Coach Wonders about Olympic Volleyball Qualification Route

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Coach Wonders about Olympic Volleyball Qualification Route

Article excerpt

Volleyball team faces stiff Olympic qualifier

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Canadian women's volleyball coach Arnd Ludwig finds himself in an unusual position going into this week's NORCECA Olympic qualification tournament in Lincoln, Neb.

With the world No. 1 Americans in the four-team field and Canada the lowest-ranked entry, winning the event -- which carries with it Olympic qualification -- seems improbable. But both the second-place and third-place teams get another crack at an Olympic berth at subsequent tournaments.

And that's where it gets interesting.

"Actually it's an advantage to finish third, because you get easier opponents (at a) tournament that you will host," Ludwig explained Tuesday early into a 10-hour bus trip from Winnipeg to Lincoln.

"It's weird," added the German native. "You want to finish third instead of second and I don't think that's the right thing. It should be if you finish second, you get an advantage and not getting punished for being second."

The second-place finisher goes to an eight-country tournament with more Olympic berths (four) on the line but with a tougher field than the event where the third-place team will end up (four countries, one Olympic berth).

Canada, ranked 17th in the world, opens Thursday against the powerful Americans at the Pinnacle Bank Arena before taking on the seventh-ranked Dominican Republic on Friday and No. 16 Puerto Rico on Saturday.

The tournament winner will join Olympic host Brazil (No. 3 in the world), World Cup winner China (No. 2) and World Cup runner-up Serbia (No. 6) in the 12-country field in Rio de Janeiro this summer.

The winners of similar continental qualifying tournaments in Europe, Africa and South America will also book their ticket to the Summer Games.

The NORCECA runner-up will move on to a World Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Japan that doubles as the Asian Continental Qualification event. …

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